Graceland – Pilot

by Alan Rapp on June 8, 2013

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Graceland – Pilot
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Graceland - Pilot

USA Network’s newest show from White Collar creator Jeff Eastin stars Aaron Tveit as rookie FBI Agent Mike Warren who is taken directly from his graduation and assigned to a joint undercover operation in Southern California beach house. A little bit Covert Affairs and a little bit Point Break, Graceland is based, in part, on real events of a house in Southern California seized by the U.S. Government which became a base for top undercover agents of the DEA, FBI, and Customs.

Beginning with Mike’s graduation from Quantico and a disastrous operation that leaves an immediate hole (Clayne Crawford) in the operation to fill, the Pilot episode follows the recruit to California and introduces him to various other members of the team including his fellow FBI agents Briggs (Daniel Sunjata), Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito), and Tuturro (Manny Montana), DEA agents Lauren (Scottie Thompson) and Paige (Serinda Swan), and Agent Jakes (Brandon Jay McLaren) with Customs.

Mike gets thrown right into action his second day on the job by taking down a low-level contact named Felix (Mark Adair-Rios) of the Russian group who shot Donnie (Crawford). Although the bust goes down by the book, Mike’s cover with the suspect is quickly blown. Things take an interesting turn when Felix refuses to rat-out Mike to his Russian bosses who have kidnapped his family and decides to tell them that Mike is his brother-in-law, a ridiculous story the Bureau then has to quickly make real when the Russians decide to bail him out of prison.

With only an hour to prepare, Briggs gets Mike up to date on the life history of Felix’s brother as the rest of the team make his cover as real as possible before sending their newest member into a highly dangerous situation without any back-up. Thinking quickly on his feet Mike is able to sell his cover but when the gang want him to kill someone to cement his loyalty things once again spiral quickly out of control when the team, who can’t contact Mike, realize they’ve sent him into a government safe house to kill Donnie.

Graceland - Pilot

The “Pilot” episode works to introduce to the various members of the team although two of the female members don’t get all that much screen time (and although her character is referred to, Swan doesn’t even make an appearance in the Pilot). After Briggs save Mike’s life and the team celebrates his first day on the job, the show introduces one more level of deception and lies when we discover Mike is working undercover on his undercover assignment and is tasked with investigating the FBI legend who just saved his life for Deputy Director Sam Campbell (Courtney B. Vance).

The cast is a little bigger than I expected, although I’m expecting the Mike/Briggs relationship to take precedence over the other storylines for most of the show’s first season. From what we see here I’d expect appearances from the various other cast members in each episode, but the size of those roles to vary greatly from episode to episode depending on the group’s latest case. I’m not quite sold on the concept yet, but unlike the crop of USA Network’s recent crop (Suits, Necessary Roughness, Royal Pains) there is enough here to bring me back for multiple episodes to see how things play out.

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